Christianity is a historical faith—it is based on actual events in history. It’s not just a belief system or a philosophy, like Hinduism or Taoism. The Bible, God’s Word, is the history of His interaction with people—the outworking of God’s plan for the ages.
You may have heard of the Seven C’s of History—the Creation Museum uses this framework in their walk through biblical history. Well, I’ve doubled them. Below is an overview of biblical history in 14 C’s. I hope that this is useful to you in putting together biblical history in a framework that helps you to memorize it and share it with others.
God, who exists from eternity, outside of time, created the universe from nothing. He spoke all of creation into existence; there is nothing that exists that He did not call into existence. God created a perfect environment on earth for the crown of His creation—man and woman. After He was finished, God called His creation “very good.” Man and woman enjoyed a perfect relationship with God and with one another in a perfect environment. The world was not marred by any disease, suffering, sin, or death. But this didn’t last very long.
Satan came to Eve in the form of a serpent and tempted her to disobey God. She succumbed to the temptation, and Adam & Eve sinned and rebelled against their Creator by disobeying His command. As a result, God cursed His creation, including humans. Creation was now in bondage to corruption and disease; and humans would experience suffering and death, as well as alienation from their Creator.
We see the effects of increasing sin and wickedness in the book of Genesis as Cain killed his brother Abel. As the descendants of Adam & Eve continue to multiply, we read of Lamech, in the sixth generation of Cain, who boasted of murdering others and is the first recorded polygamist in Scripture.
Evil and wickedness increased more and more over the centuries, until finally things got so bad that we read in Genesis 6:5. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
As judgment on man’s wickedness, God brought a watery catastrophe—a global flood upon the world, destroying every land-dwelling, air-breathing animal, and every person not on the Ark. Safe on board the Ark were representatives of the various animal kinds, and Noah’s family: Noah and his wife, and Noah’s three sons and their wives—eight people in all.
There was a new world after the Flood, and a new start for humanity. As God had done with Adam & Eve, He commanded Noah’s family to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Noah’s sons began to have children and repopulate the earth, but again the people were disobedient to God’s command. Instead of filling the earth, they all gathered together and refused to disperse around the world.
Instead Noah’s descendants decided to build a mighty city and a tall tower in the plains of Shinar (modern-day Iraq). They were prideful and arrogant; they wanted to make a name for themselves and be their own gods. And so God, instead of wiping them out again as He had in the Flood, in His mercy judged them bringing confusion to their common language, miraculously creating dozens of languages by family groups. And so, unable to communicate with one another, they stopped their building project and began to depart Babel, thus fulfilling God’s desire that they spread around the earth.
If you add up the genealogies in Genesis 1–11, you find that those chapters represent about 2,000 years of history—from Creation to the Tower of Babel.
And then, in Genesis 12, a new story begins. God called a man named Abram, later renamed Abraham, and He made an everlasting covenant with him.
Abraham would become the father of the Hebrew people, the Jewish nation. God promised to bless Abraham. God would give him a land; He would make of him a great nation; He would make his name great; and Abraham would have many descendants. And God promised Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him, through his offspring—his Seed, which is Jesus.
The rest of the Old Testament is the outworking of God’s plan, as He multiplies and blesses Abraham. Abraham became the father of Isaac, and Isaac of Jacob. It was through them that the covenant continued. God eventually led Jacob and his children to Egypt during a time of famine.
There God’s people became enslaved, and were put in chains for hundreds of years as they labored for the Egyptian taskmasters. No doubt, they wondered if God had forgotten them. But God raised up Moses as their deliverer.
Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s palace, fled to Midian for 40 years where he encountered the God of his fathers and was told to return to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from their bondage. Through the hand of Moses, God judged Egypt with ten plagues. He then miraculously delivered His people through the sea. Over 2 million people left Egypt and headed for the Promised Land.
In the wilderness of Sinai, God gave His people His Law through Moses—the Ten Commandments. These laws, and the other civil and ceremonial laws God gave them, were to guide them in their relationship with God and with one another.
Though God provided for their needs in miraculous ways, the people continued to sin and rebel and complain. They refused to enter the Promised Land due to fear and lack of trust, so God consigned them to 40 years of wandering in the wilderness until all that rebellious generation had died.
Following Moses’ leadership, Joshua took the people into the Promised Land of Canaan. The Lord gave them victory, and they extended their territory by conquest. The land was divided among the twelve tribes of Israel.
Next came the period of the judges. During this time, God’s people became ensnared by the idolatry of the nations they had conquered. Over and over, for a period of about 300 years, they repeated a cycle. They would fall into idolatry, God would punish them by bringing a nation to subdue them, they would cry out to God for help, God would raise up a judge to deliver them, and they would enjoy a time of peace. This cycle of idolatry, punishment, repentance, and deliverance repeated multiple times.
Finally, the people demanded a king as all the other nations had. And so God appointed a king for them, and Saul was crowned king. But Saul sinned against the Lord, so God rejected him. God placed David in his place, not a perfect man, but a man after God’s own heart. David expanded the kingdom and passed it on to his son, Solomon. Solomon built a magnificent temple for God, that He might dwell among His people. Israel was meant to be a light to the nations—to display God’s glory as they lived as His people.
But the story of sin and rebellion that started in Eden continued over the next 400 years as Israel was divided into north and south. The northern kingdom of Israel was ruled by a succession of evil kings who led the people into idolatry and sin. The southern kingdom of Judah was a little bit better, with some good kings mixed in with the bad, but they, too, continued to rebel against God and worshiped idols.
God finally judged the northern kingdom when Assyria conquered them and took them into captivity, never to return again. About 120 years later, God brought Babylon against the southern kingdom of Judah and took them into captivity.
After 70 years, Judah was restored to its land. Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, and others led the people to restore the city of Jerusalem, rebuild the temple, and reinstate the law. And then came period of 400 years, from Malachi to Matthew, with no word from God.
Two thousand years passed from Genesis 1 to Genesis 11, and now another 2,000 years have passed from Genesis 12 and the time of Abraham until God Himself stepped into history to take care of man’s sin problem once and for all.
After 400 years of no prophetic word from God, an angel appeared to a young woman named Mary in the backwater village of Nazareth and told her that she would bear a child, Jesus, who would be the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, and He will be the one to save His people from their sins.
Jesus came to reveal the Father, to redeem a people, to reverse the curse of sin and death, and ultimately to restore God’s rule—His kingdom. Jesus chose 12 men to teach and train and disciple who would become His representatives after His death, to take the good news of the gospel—how mankind can be forgiven of their sins and be restored in their relationship to their Creator—and to proclaim the message of the coming rule and reign of God.
Then Jesus was betrayed by His disciple, Judas, who had been influenced by Satan. Jesus was tried for blasphemy by the religious leaders and found guilty. His punishment was crucifixion on a Roman cross. But they didn’t take His life—He voluntarily gave it up, demonstrating the love and grace of God as He bore the world’s sin and took the punishment that we deserve. God Himself took care of man’s sin problem; God Himself stepped into history to pay the price for our rebellion and idolatry.
And then Jesus rose from the dead. Death could not hold Him. Satan could not stop Him. Jesus, the Lord of Life, came back to life.
After His resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days with His disciples, and He commissioned them—and us—to take the good news to the ends of the earth. And then He ascended to heaven, where He waits at the Father’s right hand until the day when He returns to set up His eternal kingdom.
On the day of Pentecost, 10 days after Jesus’ ascension, the church was born as God sent His Holy Spirit to indwell Jesus’ followers. It has now been 2,000 years since the time of Christ. We, His people, His church, are living in days of grace, as God graciously and lovingly withholds His promised judgment as His people take the news of salvation to the ends of the earth, making disciples of all nations, proclaiming the coming rule and reign of God. Where the earthly nation of Israel failed to spread His glory among the nations, God’s new people of faith—a holy nation, citizens of a heavenly kingdom, Christ’s church—will accomplish the task as they are led by God’s Spirit and His Word.
During this age, we work and we wait. We face great opposition in our task as Satan, the dark ruler of this world, the god of this age, seeks to unseat God, and seeks to blind the eyes of men and women, and boys and girls, to the glory of Christ and the gospel. Satan’s power is great; his influence is widespread; his allies are everywhere; and his captives are many.
But we serve a risen Lord. The Lord of hosts is His name—the King of kings and Lord of lords. And He must win the battle. His will build His church; the gates of hell will not prevail; and His Kingdom will come.
A day is coming, at the end of this age—at the consummation—when Christ will return. He will rescue His people; He will put down all rebellion; He will judge the living and the dead; He will cast Satan and his followers into the Lake of Fire; and He will set up an eternal kingdom. He will make a New Heaven and a New Earth, restoring His creation from the curse of sin and death. And we will live forever, worshiping and glorifying God as we enjoy His renewed creation in redeemed bodies.